One of the greatest blessings of Allah upon his servants is the blessing of having a child, children -righteous ones- are part of the sustainable pious deeds of their parents even after the parents’ death. The messenger (peace be upon him) said: “When a son of Adam (i.e. any human being) dies, his deeds are discontinued, with three exceptions;” then he mentioned out of three exceptions, “a righteous child who supplicates for him.”
Brothers and sisters, it is only when your children are pious that you benefit from them being dutiful, obedient or being beneficial to you generally. In this case, having children therefore becomes an obvious blessing for parents both here and in the hereafter. Allah says: “Wealth and children are the adornment of this worldly life” [18:46].
Despite what having children contains of goodness and bounty, they are a trust that must be handled based on what Allah wants, he says: “Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due” [04:58]. Allah’s decree is contained in the Quran that it is mandatory upon parents and guardians to protect their children from hellfire and they should try as much as they can to take them away from any path that leads to Jahannam. Allah says: “O believers! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, overseen by formidable and severe angels, who never disobey whatever Allah orders—always doing as commanded.” [66:6]
This means that parents should protect their children by teaching them, giving them sound upbringing, calling them upon the way of Allah and protecting them from being worthy of the punishment of Allah (that’s by guiding them).
The messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) explained that every person will be asked about his wards (or those under his guardianship) on the day of resurrection, so, what is that person who betrays his children going to give as his answer before Allah the most high? What expression would the betrayer of his trust make! The messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock… a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them”
Therefore, raising children and taking care of them is a responsibility that when parents and guardians abandon it, severe fate for them on the day of judgement is brought about. The messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Any servant in charge of wards (children and so on) who dies while acting dishonestly towards them will be excluded by Allah from Paradise.”
The new born is born free from evil/sin (on Fitrah – innocent instinct), so what is binding upon parents is maintaining that innocent and good instinct in their children, they are tasked to protect that innocence from evils that are targeting them. But the most unfortunate situation is; when the parents become the cause of their children getting derailed and that happens when parents are insensitive about guarding that innocence. The messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Everyone is born a Muslim, but his parents make him a Jew, a Christian, or a Magian…”
Brothers and sisters in faith, cartoons or animations are among the most dangerous topics when it comes to raising children nowadays in our communities, that’s because of the huge impacts they leave on the minds of our young children. Cartoons and animations have become the first source of education and upbringing in a lot of countries around the world. At this stage of children’s growth, the mind and heart of a child resemble a plane white paper that when anything comes over it, it gets ingrained on it.
It is worthy to relate at this juncture that researchers have asserted some positive effects on children coming out of watching cartoons, these include:
- Furnishing children with great cultural information in a simple and interesting way. Some cartoons enlighten children on some specific geographical environments, some shed light on some aspects of knowledge and science like how the human organs work and other aspects that equip children with a spectrum of knowledge at an early stage.
- Building the imagination of children and feeding their abilities, because building the art of imagination in a child is one of the best ways to get his mind to grow. It also helps prepare children to be innovative and through that, numerous creative methods of thinking are impacted on them.
- Watching cartoons helps the children to have good command of language.
- Through that, the thirst within the minds of children regarding beneficial psychological needs are quenched.
BUT, (a big one), on the other hand, there are a collection of negative impacts on children that come about from watching cartoons, these include but not limited to the following:
- The negative effects of watching TV generally which are numerous and which include harming the wellbeing of eyes, getting used to laziness and idleness, getting used to only receiving ideas and not participating in crafting them, and that stifles the normal cognitive development. Also, watching television in some cases weakens the spirit of affection between family members, when they are too busy to talk to each other while watching.
- Presenting doctrinal, intellectual and practical concepts that are contrary to Islam: and that’s when the concepts of unlawful mingling with opposite sex and inappropriate dressing are inculcated in cartoons. Some cartoons such as what is known as (Tom and Jerry) contain distorted concepts about the Hereafter, Heaven, Hell and Account, while some of them contain distorted stories about prophets and messengers. Others contain mockery of Islam and Muslims, and other cartoons (such as Pokémon) contain pagan beliefs practiced in eastern part of the world. . . . And many other subliminal messages of homosexuality, feminism, atheism, and so on which are aimed at corrupting the minds of our innocent children… and if these don’t seem to carry anything that contradicts Islam in apparent contradiction, then they carry within them the promotion of western culture alien to our societies and our religion.
Dr. Wahbah Az-Zuhaily said in his book “Qadiyyatul Ahdaath”:
Among the negative impacts of cartoons, is that our children have been forced to choose imaginary role models which are not real at all, instead of them having the noble messenger (peace be upon him), pious scholars and those who struggle in the course of Allah as their role models, you unfortunately come across children imitating Superman, Batman, Spiderman and other personalities that don’t exist. Sadly, the slot of a befitting role model is lost in the midst of imaginative power devoid of faith.
Brothers and sisters in faith, after revealing the pros and cons of cartoons, the Islamic position on the issue is clear. Whenever negatives surpass positives, the ruling shifts more towards prohibition and whenever these negatives are less, ruling shifts towards permissibility. This also shows you how the Muslim Ummah is in a dire need to establish production companies for Islamic cartoon films, so that virtues are implanted in Muslim kids and with that, harmful content is taken off their minds.
The Saudi “Al-Jazirah Newspaper” in 1427 AH (2006) referred to an academic study by researcher Huda Al-Ghafees that dealt with the effect of animation on children, in various aspects of their lives, and the content goes:
“An academic study warned on the danger of the impact of “imported” animations on the creed of Muslim children; because of what they contain of deviations in ideas aimed at undermining faith in the minds of young people. The researcher emphasized on the need for concerted efforts to reform channels (and satellite channels) to protect our children from what is being plotted against them, as the issue is no longer hidden.
The study indicated that a doctrinal ideological war against Islam and its people is aimed first at the belief of the Muslim children, the foundations of religion, belief in Allah, his books, and his messengers.
The study also revealed that the most susceptible period of children’s attachment to the media is at the age of three for males, and five for females, and these are the most delicate stages of a child’s development, this is a time when their ideas and beliefs are built.
The study depicted that a high percentage of mothers were not aware of the significant role animation can play in consolidating the correct belief in children, as 75% of those who participated in the study were not sure of the power of animation in building a child’s belief, and this indicates an urgent need to rebuild what children watch, noting the fact that the role of animation in building a child’s imagination, which leads him to adopt convictions, is extremely dangerous for the child’s psyche. Unfortunately, this issue (i.e. the issue of the impact of animation on children’s mentality) despite its greatness: it was not presented in an appropriate manner that is commensurate with the level of danger facing our children.Huda Al-Ghafees, Al-Jazirah Newspaper, 1427 AH (2006)
To avoid bias in the presentation of facts and to give a balanced representation of facts, refer to the following books:
- “Amusing ourselves to death” authored by Neil Postman, published in 1985.
- “Remotely controlled” by Aric Sigman, first published in 2005.
Advice for parents and guardians
Dr. Salih Al-Munajjid pointed out some ways which parents and guardians are advised to follow in repelling this attack on our children:
- Their childhood should be taken advantage of by paying attention on the memorization of the book of Allah (Quran).
- Bringing them up on the love of the prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions by studying their biographies and history from books carefully chosen based on their ages.
- Teaching them aspects of their creed in a simple medium, this should include teaching them oneness of Allah, glorifying him, loving him, fearing him, and telling them about him being upon all things capable, and that he is the absolute creator, the sustainer, and so on among things they can comprehend at their respective ages.
- They should be trained on desisting evil and hating it, they should be taught not to watch films that contains music instruments, or the ones that depict women dressed inappropriately. They should be trained to mention the name of Allah when eating or drinking. They should be trained on the enjoinment of good and resentment of evil. When a child is trained in the above way, he will be guided in sha Allah towards watching what benefits him, and in the event he spots something inappropriate or illicit, he will quickly shut it or abstain from it.
Because of how widespread watching cartoons is in our homes and the obvious need for children to be entertained, there is need for alternative, some of the alternatives to these corrupting animations include:
- The Production of programs similar to those drawings that are adherent of the ideology of Islam, so they are free of evils, and so the children are raised on virtues.
- Choosing educational and cultural programs that combine fun (provided they are in accordance with Islamic injunctions) and education. Such programs have become popular, they are produced in audios and videos, and they include discussions about the aquatic life and habitats of numerous other animals. The researcher Huda Al-Ghafees mentioned some of them in her thesis, she asserted that:
“some characteristics that children’s program makers should be conscious of include: avoiding the production of cartoons that instill fear in the heart of a child; because he is in a stage where he is psychologically prepared to accept such stimuli; a child from two to five years old is afraid of loneliness, fire, animals, and imaginary things, such as ghosts and goblins, and filming such scenes produces psychologically disturbed children.
Programs intended for children should be concerned with spreading values, and not giving a large dose of crying; because this only builds a weak personality that is unable to endure difficulties. The aim of such content should rather be to transmit values through entertaining templates as well as happy optimistic thoughts.
The study emphasizes the need to analyze the impact of animation, in accordance with Sharia standards, so that its purpose is not solely entertainment based and not only to find an alternative; Because it is noticeable that a lot of the alternatives are concerned about exclusively not wanting to include what contradicts Islamic standards, but they neglect an important aspect, which is how to contribute to instilling Islamic belief, according to a well-thought-out plan, appropriate for the age of the recipient, and there is need for specialists in Islamic sciences to undertake the duty to confront the campaigns that target the minds of young people relentlessly…”Huda Al-Ghafees, Al-Jazirah Newspaper, 1427 AH (2006)
- Preoccupying children with useful health programs in which they practice sports like swimming and other permissible games, which combine pleasure and benefit for them, so long as the sports facility is carefully chosen, so also, friends who participate alongside them should be carefully chosen.
- Visiting Islamic websites that contain sections concerned with children, by showing them useful flashes, entertaining games or cartoons in which the stories of the prophets and the righteous predecessors are covered.
Brothers and sisters in faith, as you notice throughout this sermon, we do not deal with children as we deal with adults. It should be noted that parents are urged to satisfy the child’s desire for the pleasure of watching, and of playing, but at the same time we do not leave it loose ended; lest we fall into infractions in the injunctions of Islam; And lest the child turn against us defiantly corrupt. Therefore, we enjoin companies and institutions that are able to produce what the child benefits from, in sound and image, not to fall short in that, as our children are direly in need of this, and parents are in dire need of a useful and enjoyable alternative that they offer their children.
May Allah protect our children from the plotting of evil plotters targeting their minds and religiosity.